Migamba Case (DRC): when mining exploitation leads to mass crimes
The mining riches of South Kivu, in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), attract violence from (and between) armed militia. Further, the illegal exploitation and monopolization of natural resources can lead to serious crimes against local populations. This is so with the Migamba case which TRIAL International took up in 2019. In January 2021, a militia leader was found guilty of crimes against humanity.
The Raya Mutomboki militia is responsible for numerous acts of violence in South Kivu. TRIAL International itself contributed to the trial of one of its most feared leaders in 2019. But Raya Mutomboki is made up of many smaller groups which sometimes operate together and sometimes against each another. In the Migamba case, the faction called Raiya Mutomboki Charlequin was guilty of civil attacks.
Attacking civilians to exploit ore
More precisely, men of the self-proclaimed General Charlequin Julio, who gave his name to the group, organized a series of attacks against the civil population of the Migamba, Bugumbu and Nyamingilingili villages (territory of Mwenga, South Kivu). For five years, from 2007 to 2012, they committed crimes of murder, rape, torture, sexual slavery and deprivation of liberty against over 100 victims.
It was the soil of the area, rich in ore, which attracted the greed of Raiya Mutomboki Charlequin. By attacking these villages in a repetitive manner, they wanted to force the population to flee and thus to assume control of the surrounding mines.
Charlequin’s deputy in the dock
The right-hand man of the leader of the militia faction, Takungomo Mukambilwa Le Pouce, was arrested in 2020. He appeared before judges for crimes against humanity. In fact, the crimes committed by the Raiya Mutomboki Charlequin militia were generalized and systematic, and could therefore qualify as international crimes.
In 2019, TRIAL International started to work on the case with a local NGO. It trained two lawyers who supported the victims in the examination before the military prosecutor in December 2019. These two same lawyers now represent the victims in the mobile trial, which have opened in the first days of 2021.
On 11 January 2021, following a series of mobile court hearings, Takungomo Mukambilwa Le Pouce was condemned to 20 years imprisonment. He was found guilty of murder, rape, sexual slavery, torture, imprisonment, enforced disappearances and other inhumane acts constitutive of crimes against humanity. Reparations were granted to over 170 victims, and the tribunal also ordered reinstallation measures. The Congolese State was not condemned in solidum.
TRIAL International’s contribution to this case is carried out in the framework of the Task Force for International Criminal Justice, an informal network of international players who work together to support the work of Congolese military courts in investigating and prosecuting mass crimes in DRC.